Freeman, Acuna homers lift Braves to win

Atlanta pulls to within a half-game of Phillies in NL East

July 31st, 2018

ATLANTA -- Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has remained true to the promise he made to his players nearly a month ago, when he said as long as they remained legit postseason contenders he would make every attempt to make key acquisitions.

With their 5-3 win over the Marlins Monday night at SunTrust Park, the Braves gave Anthopoulos a little more motivation to remain aggressive leading up to today's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. They sit just a half-game behind the first-place Phillies in the National League East and have already benefited from recent additions.

"Usually we are talking about a whole different story around this time, and for everybody to be talking about adding, it's nice," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who enhanced his MVP credentials with the go-ahead solo homer, hit off in a two-run third inning.

This series-opening victory over the Marlins provided the Braves with consecutive wins for just the second time since July 2. The team has not looked as formidable as it did throughout most of the season's first three months. But the recent additions of left-hander Jonny Venters and righty have already lessened concerns about what was a very thin bullpen.

There is a chance the Braves could add another reliever before the Deadline, and there's also a possibility they may opt to use rising prospect Touki Toussaint out of the bullpen at some point. But the much-maligned 'pen looked sharp as it provided four scoreless innings in support of the latest mediocre start provided by , who allowed three earned runs over just five innings.

"You don't have to go to the same guys every single night," Freeman said. "When you have three rookie relievers going through the season and how much they got pitched in those first couple of months, it's nice to be able to throw someone else out there. Jonny's been through it and so has Brad."

Brach's fastball touched 95.6 mph, and he showed an effective slider as he made his Braves debut following the scoreless innings provided by and .

Sam Freeman and have combined to allow each of the four runs the bullpen has allowed since Venters joined the team on Friday. Freeman was placed on the disabled list on Monday, and Jackson is a candidate to be optioned to create a roster spot for starting pitcher Kolby Allard on Tuesday.

Less than 30 minutes after the win, the Braves acquired from the Reds. Duvall provides power potential from the right side of the plate and above-average defensive skills as an outfielder. His addition allows manager Brian Snitker to sit and have transition from left field to center field against left-handed starters.

backed Teheran with a pair of key doubles, including one that scored Tyler Flowers from first base in the third inning. Camargo has shown his value as he has produced a .797 OPS dating back to May 29. But the Braves would like to add a right-handed hitting third baseman to create the opportunity for Camargo to switch to shortstop against left-handed pitchers. Starting shortstop Dansby Swanson has hit just .208 against lefties.

Teheran surrendered 's two-run homer before recording the game's first out in a 31-pitch first inning. But the veteran right-hander limited the Marlins to just one more run over five innings.

Teheran's inconsistencies, combined with likely season-ending injuries sustained by and , have left the Braves' rotation thin. The club had its eyes on , who was acquired by the Yankees Monday night. The primary interest is to potentially add a controllable front-line starter like the Rays' Chris Archer.

"I don't know that Anthopoulos sleeps because it's amazing with all the phone calls he makes," Snitker said. "It would probably blow you away if you saw the call log on his cell phone. I have all the confidence in the world in what he is doing."


After Chen intentionally walked Swanson with two outs in the second inning, Teheran helped himself by concluding a eight-pitch at-bat with a RBI single to center field. The game-tying single was his fifth hit of the season.

"I was really focusing on that at-bat to get the chance to get back in the game, and the guys had been trying really hard to score runs," Teheran said, "but I was in the spot where I needed to do something, and I felt that. I was glad I got a base hit on that."


Freeman has certainly strengthened his MVP resume at the expense of the Marlins. He has hit .450 (18-for-40 with six home runs in 10 games) against Miami this season .


Kolby Allard will make his much-anticipated Major League debut when he starts Tuesday night's game against the Marlins at SunTrust Park. MLB Pipeline ranks Allard as baseball's 93rd-best prospect and the eighth-best prospect in Atlanta's system. The 20-year-old left-hander will oppose Dan Straily. First pitch is 7:35 p.m. ET.